Marine Mammals; Pinniped Removal Authority, 17141-17143 [2016-06928]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 59 / Monday, March 28, 2016 / Notices A. American Samoa B. Guam C. CNMI D. Hawaii E. Marine Recreational Information Program and Territory Science Initiative Projects F. Western Pacific Fishery Information Network Database Transition and Online Interface G. Discussions H. Public Comment 5. 2015 Annual/SAFE Report Recommendations A. Overall Annual/SAFE Report Framework i. Linkages with the on-the-ground data collection ii. Timelines for data submission for Annual/SAFE Report B. Discussion on Addressing Recommendations from the Fishery section i. Insular fisheries modules a. American Samoa b. Guam c. CNMI d. Hawaii ii. Ecosystem Considerations a. Climate, ecosystems and biological section b. Human dimension section C. Discussions D. Public Comment 6. Strategic Plan Monitoring A. 2009 Data Workshop Recommendations and Status B. Status of tasks for the FDCRC Strategic Plan C. Grants and Funding Opportunity Matrix D. Group discussion on status monitoring procedure E. Discussions F. Public Comment Lhorne on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 8:30 a.m.–12 p.m., Friday, April 15, 2016 7. Improving the on-the-ground data collection A. How much more do we need to collect: SHINY Database Analytics B. BioSampling Program Review C. Establishing Import-Export Database System D. Discussions E. Public Comment 8. General Discussions 9. FDCRC–TC Recommendations 10. Other Business Non-emergency issues not contained in this agenda may come before the Council for discussion and formal Council action during its 163rd meeting. However, Council action on regulatory issues will be restricted to those issues specifically listed in this document and any regulatory issue arising after publication of this document that VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:52 Mar 25, 2016 Jkt 238001 requires emergency action under section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, provided the public has been notified of the Council’s intent to take action to address the emergency. Special Accommodations These meetings are physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Kitty M. Simonds, (808) 522–8220 (voice) or (808) 522– 8226 (fax), at least 5 days prior to the meeting date. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 17141 Agenda 1. Welcome and Introductions 2. Review of Council actions taken during the April, 2016 Council Meeting 3. Questions and Answers 4. Adjourn Special Accommodations This meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Kathy Pereira at the Gulf Council Office (see ADDRESSES), at least 5 working days prior to the meeting. Dated: March 23, 2016. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. Dated: March 23, 2016. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2016–06897 Filed 3–25–16; 8:45 am] [FR Doc. 2016–06921 Filed 3–25–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting RIN 0648–XE461 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of a public meeting via webinar. AGENCY: The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will hold a Post Council Meeting Briefing for the public via webinar. DATES: The meeting will convene on Monday, April 18, 2016; starting at 6 p.m. EDT and ending no later than 9 p.m. EDT. ADDRESSES: The meeting will take place via webinar at: https:// attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/ 3457390497527000068. Council address: Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, 2203 N. Lois Avenue, Suite 1100, Tampa, FL 33607; telephone: (813) 348–1630. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Charlene Ponce, Public Information Officer, Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council; charlene.ponce@ gulfcouncil.org, telephone: (813) 348– 1630. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Click the link below to register for the webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/ register/3457390497527000068. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Marine Mammals; Pinniped Removal Authority National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Commerce (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; request for comments. AGENCY: On March 15, 2012, NMFS issued a Letter of Authorization (LOA) under section 120 of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) to the States of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington (States) for the intentional take, by lethal methods, of individually identifiable California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) in the vicinity of Bonneville Dam, on the Columbia River in Washington and Oregon, that are having a significant negative impact on Pacific salmon and steelhead (Onchorhynchus spp.) listed as threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The 2012 LOA expires on June 30, 2016. On January 27, 2016, NMFS received an application from the same States to extend the 2012 LOA through June 30, 2021. The States are not requesting any changes or modifications to the terms and conditions of the 2012 LOA. The States’ application contains a summary of the status and management of California sea lions and salmonid populations as they relate to the problem interaction at Bonneville Dam. Pursuant to the MMPA, NMFS has SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\28MRN1.SGM 28MRN1 Lhorne on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 17142 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 59 / Monday, March 28, 2016 / Notices determined that the application contains sufficient information to warrant convening a Pinniped-Fishery Interaction Task Force (Task Force), which will deliberate after the closing of a public comment period. NMFS is soliciting comments on the States’ application and other relevant information related to pinniped predation on salmonids at Bonneville Dam. DATES: Comments must be received by April 27, 2016. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by NOAA–NMFS–2016–0034, by either of the following methods: • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. 1. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20160034 2. Click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields 3. Enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Comments on the application should be addressed to: National Marine Fisheries Service, West Coast Region, 1201 NE Lloyd Blvd., Suite 1100, Portland, OR 97232; ATTN: Robert Anderson, Protected Resource Division. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/ A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert Anderson, (503) 231–2226. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The States’ application and further information is available on the NMFS West Coast Region Web site, including but not limited to: the States’ application; background information on pinniped predation on listed salmonids; NMFS’ past and current authorizations of lethal removal at Bonneville Dam; descriptions of nonlethal efforts to address the predation; Bonneville Dam field reports; Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife field reports; NMFS’ 2008 Final Environmental Assessment; NMFS’ 2011 Supplemental Information Report to the Final Environmental Assessment; and NMFS’ 2012 Report on Consideration of Statutory Factors VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:52 Mar 25, 2016 Jkt 238001 under section 120 of the MMPA. The information can be accessed at: http:// www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/ protected_species/marine_mammals/ authorized_states.html. Statutory Authority Section 120 of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361, et seq.) allows the Secretary of Commerce, acting through the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, and the West Coast Regional Administrator of NMFS, to authorize the intentional lethal taking of individually identifiable pinnipeds that are having a significant negative impact on the decline or recovery of salmonid fishery stocks which have been listed as threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973 (19 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The authorization applies only to pinnipeds that are not listed under the ESA, or designated as a depleted or strategic stock under the MMPA. California sea lions are neither listed under the ESA nor designated as a depleted or strategic stock under the MMPA. Pursuant to section 120(b) and (c), a State may request authorization to lethally remove pinnipeds, and the Regional Administrator is required to: (1) Review the application to determine whether the applicant has produced sufficient evidence to warrant establishing a Pinniped-Fishery Interaction Task Force (Task Force) to address the situation described in the application; (2) establish the Task Force and publish a notice in the Federal Register requesting public comment on the application if sufficient evidence has been produced; (3) consider any recommendations made by the Task Force in making a determination whether to approve or deny the application; and (4) if approved, immediately take steps to implement the intentional lethal taking, which shall be performed by Federal or State agencies, or qualified individuals under contract to such agencies. The MMPA requires the Task Force be composed of the following: (1) NMFS/ NOAA staff, (2) scientists who are knowledgeable about the pinniped interaction, (3) representatives of affected conservation and fishing community organizations, (4) treaty Indian tribes, (5) the States, and (6) such other organizations as NMFS deems appropriate. The Task Force reviews the application, other background information, the factors contained in MMPA section 120(d), and public comments and, as required by section 120, recommends to NMFS whether to approve or deny the application. The Task Force is also required to submit PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 with its recommendation a description of the specific pinniped individual or individuals; the proposed location, time, and method of such taking; criteria for evaluating the success of the action; the duration of the intentional lethal taking authority; and a suggestion for non-lethal alternatives, if available and practicable, including a recommended course of action. Background In December 2006, NMFS received an application co-signed by the directors of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, on the States’ behalf, requesting authorization under section 120 of the MMPA to intentionally take, by lethal methods, individually identifiable predatory California sea lions in the Columbia River, which were then having a significant negative impact on the recovery of threatened and endangered Pacific salmon and steelhead. After deeming the States’ application complete, NMFS published a notice in the Federal Register seeking public comment on the application and also requested names of potential members of the Task Force (72 FR 4239, January 30, 2007). After the close of the public comment period, NMFS established the Bonneville Task Force under MMPA section 120(d) in August 2007, which consisted of 18 members (72 FR 44833, August 9, 2007). The Bonneville Task Force completed and submitted its report to NMFS on November 5, 2007. Seventeen of the eighteen members supported lethal removal of California sea lions while one member from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) opposed the States’ application and any lethal removal. NMFS partially approved the State’s 2006 request in 2008, issuing its LOA on March 18, 2008. Shortly after NMFS issued the LOA, HSUS filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Oregon, alleging that NMFS’ LOA violated section 120 of the MMPA and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). In November 2008, the district court issued an order upholding NMFS’ approval of the lethal removal program and its evaluation of impacts under NEPA. Plaintiffs appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which declined to halt the removal program while the appeal was pending. On the merits the Ninth Circuit vacated and remanded the LOA in November 2010. Humane Society of the United States, et al. v. Locke, 626 F.3d 1040 (9th Cir. 2010). In response to the court’s 2010 decision, the States submitted a new request for lethal removal authorization E:\FR\FM\28MRN1.SGM 28MRN1 Lhorne on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 59 / Monday, March 28, 2016 / Notices on December 7, 2010. NMFS considered the request and new information available since its prior authorization, including the Bonneville Task Force’s recommendations. NMFS again authorized lethal take, under similar conditions to the 2008 authorization (albeit with modifications), issuing a new LOA on May 13, 2011. HSUS again filed suit this time in federal court for the District of Columbia, alleging, among other things, that NMFS had not followed procedural requirements under MMPA section 120 prior to issuing the new authorization (including public notice and comment on the States’ application). In coordination with the States, NMFS revoked the May 13 authorization on July 22, 2011, and HSUS voluntarily withdrew their lawsuit. On August 18, 2011, the States submitted a new request for lethal removal of California sea lions at Bonneville Dam under essentially the same conditions as the prior authorizations. NMFS published notice of the States’ application in the Federal Register on September 12, 2011, and requested comment on the application and other relevant information concerning the pinniped-salmonid conflict at Bonneville Dam (76 FR 56167; September 12, 2011). NMFS reconvened the Bonneville Task Force in October 2011 to evaluate the States’ application and public comments and to recommend whether NMFS should approve or deny the proposed intentional lethal taking program. The Bonneville Task Force’s final report and recommendation was provided to NMFS on November 14, 2011. On March 15, 2012, NMFS issued the current LOA to the States. In renewed litigation by HSUS, this LOA was upheld in district court on February 15, 2013, and later affirmed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Humane Society of the US v. Bryson, 924 F.Supp.2d 1228 (D. Or., 2013); HSUS v. Pritzker, No. 13–35195 (9th Cir., 9/27/13). The NMFS West Coast Regional Administrator has considered the States’ application and determined that it provides sufficient evidence to warrant reconvening the Bonneville Task Force. The application, based on NMFS’ 2012 LOA and its implementation, describes the continuing problem of interactions between pinnipeds and listed salmonids at and below Bonneville Dam, and describes the expected benefits from the removal of pinnipeds. The application also documents past nonlethal efforts to prevent problem pinniped-salmonid interactions. The MMPA requires NMFS to consider the recommendations of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:52 Mar 25, 2016 Jkt 238001 Task Force when determining whether to issue a section 120 LOA. In order to obtain the Bonneville Task Force’s views regarding this extension of the existing LOA, NMFS will consult with Bonneville Task Force members after the 30-day public comment period closes. Request for Comments and Other Information NMFS solicits public comments on the States’ application and any additional information that should be considered by the Bonneville Task Force in making its recommendation, or by NMFS in making its determination whether to approve or deny the application. Dated: March 22, 2016. Nicole R. LeBoeuf, Chief, Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2016–06928 Filed 3–25–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P 17143 Agenda The committee will receive and discuss a progress report from the Plan Development Team on a prototype or example Fishery Ecosystem Plan (eFEP). A final report is scheduled to be presented at the June 2016 Council meeting. They will also discuss establishing an EBFM Advisory Panel and developing a Fishery Ecosystem Plan scoping process. Other business will be discussed if time permits. Special Accommodations This meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, at (978) 465–0492, at least 5 days prior to the meeting date. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: March 23, 2016. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2016–06894 Filed 3–25–16; 8:45 am] DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration New England Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XE525 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. AGENCY: ACTION: Notice; public meeting. The New England Fishery Management Council (Council) is scheduling a public meeting of its Ecosystem Based Fishery Management (EBFM) Committee to consider actions affecting New England fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Recommendations from this group will be brought to the full Council for formal consideration and action, if appropriate. SUMMARY: This meeting will be held on Thursday, April 14, 2016 at 9 a.m. DATES: The meeting will be held at the Hotel 1620, 180 Water Street, Plymouth, MA 02360; telephone: (508) 747–4900; fax: (508) 747–8937. Council address: New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950. ADDRESSES: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council; telephone: (978) 465–0492. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Endangered and Threatened Species; Take of Anadromous Fish National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce. ACTION: Notice; availability of hatchery plan and request for comment. AGENCY: Notice is hereby given that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has submitted a Hatchery and Genetic Management Plan (HGMP) pursuant to the protective regulations promulgated for Pacific salmon and steelhead under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The HGMP specifies the operation of a hatchery program rearing steelhead in the Mad River subbasin within the State of California. This document serves to notify the public of the availability of the HGMP and associated draft environmental assessment (EA) for comment prior to a decision by NMFS whether to approve the proposed hatchery program. DATES: Comments must be received at the appropriate address or fax number (see ADDRESSES) no later than 5 p.m. Pacific time on April 27, 2016. SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\28MRN1.SGM 28MRN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 59 (Monday, March 28, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 17141-17143]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-06928]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XE461


Marine Mammals; Pinniped Removal Authority

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration, Commerce (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Notice; request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: On March 15, 2012, NMFS issued a Letter of Authorization (LOA) 
under section 120 of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) to the 
States of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington (States) for the intentional 
take, by lethal methods, of individually identifiable California sea 
lions (Zalophus californianus) in the vicinity of Bonneville Dam, on 
the Columbia River in Washington and Oregon, that are having a 
significant negative impact on Pacific salmon and steelhead 
(Onchorhynchus spp.) listed as threatened or endangered species under 
the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The 2012 LOA expires on June 30, 
2016. On January 27, 2016, NMFS received an application from the same 
States to extend the 2012 LOA through June 30, 2021. The States are not 
requesting any changes or modifications to the terms and conditions of 
the 2012 LOA.
    The States' application contains a summary of the status and 
management of California sea lions and salmonid populations as they 
relate to the problem interaction at Bonneville Dam. Pursuant to the 
MMPA, NMFS has

[[Page 17142]]

determined that the application contains sufficient information to 
warrant convening a Pinniped-Fishery Interaction Task Force (Task 
Force), which will deliberate after the closing of a public comment 
period. NMFS is soliciting comments on the States' application and 
other relevant information related to pinniped predation on salmonids 
at Bonneville Dam.

DATES: Comments must be received by April 27, 2016.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2016-0034, 
by either of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal.
    1. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2016-0034
    2. Click the ``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields
    3. Enter or attach your comments.
     Mail: Comments on the application should be addressed to: 
National Marine Fisheries Service, West Coast Region, 1201 NE Lloyd 
Blvd., Suite 1100, Portland, OR 97232; ATTN: Robert Anderson, Protected 
Resource Division.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous 
comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert Anderson, (503) 231-2226.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The States' application and further 
information is available on the NMFS West Coast Region Web site, 
including but not limited to: the States' application; background 
information on pinniped predation on listed salmonids; NMFS' past and 
current authorizations of lethal removal at Bonneville Dam; 
descriptions of nonlethal efforts to address the predation; Bonneville 
Dam field reports; Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife field 
reports; NMFS' 2008 Final Environmental Assessment; NMFS' 2011 
Supplemental Information Report to the Final Environmental Assessment; 
and NMFS' 2012 Report on Consideration of Statutory Factors under 
section 120 of the MMPA. The information can be accessed at: http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/protected_species/marine_mammals/authorized_states.html.

Statutory Authority

    Section 120 of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361, et seq.) allows the 
Secretary of Commerce, acting through the Assistant Administrator for 
Fisheries, and the West Coast Regional Administrator of NMFS, to 
authorize the intentional lethal taking of individually identifiable 
pinnipeds that are having a significant negative impact on the decline 
or recovery of salmonid fishery stocks which have been listed as 
threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) 
of 1973 (19 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The authorization applies only to 
pinnipeds that are not listed under the ESA, or designated as a 
depleted or strategic stock under the MMPA. California sea lions are 
neither listed under the ESA nor designated as a depleted or strategic 
stock under the MMPA. Pursuant to section 120(b) and (c), a State may 
request authorization to lethally remove pinnipeds, and the Regional 
Administrator is required to: (1) Review the application to determine 
whether the applicant has produced sufficient evidence to warrant 
establishing a Pinniped-Fishery Interaction Task Force (Task Force) to 
address the situation described in the application; (2) establish the 
Task Force and publish a notice in the Federal Register requesting 
public comment on the application if sufficient evidence has been 
produced; (3) consider any recommendations made by the Task Force in 
making a determination whether to approve or deny the application; and 
(4) if approved, immediately take steps to implement the intentional 
lethal taking, which shall be performed by Federal or State agencies, 
or qualified individuals under contract to such agencies.
    The MMPA requires the Task Force be composed of the following: (1) 
NMFS/NOAA staff, (2) scientists who are knowledgeable about the 
pinniped interaction, (3) representatives of affected conservation and 
fishing community organizations, (4) treaty Indian tribes, (5) the 
States, and (6) such other organizations as NMFS deems appropriate. The 
Task Force reviews the application, other background information, the 
factors contained in MMPA section 120(d), and public comments and, as 
required by section 120, recommends to NMFS whether to approve or deny 
the application. The Task Force is also required to submit with its 
recommendation a description of the specific pinniped individual or 
individuals; the proposed location, time, and method of such taking; 
criteria for evaluating the success of the action; the duration of the 
intentional lethal taking authority; and a suggestion for non-lethal 
alternatives, if available and practicable, including a recommended 
course of action.

Background

    In December 2006, NMFS received an application co-signed by the 
directors of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Oregon 
Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Idaho Department of Fish and 
Game, on the States' behalf, requesting authorization under section 120 
of the MMPA to intentionally take, by lethal methods, individually 
identifiable predatory California sea lions in the Columbia River, 
which were then having a significant negative impact on the recovery of 
threatened and endangered Pacific salmon and steelhead. After deeming 
the States' application complete, NMFS published a notice in the 
Federal Register seeking public comment on the application and also 
requested names of potential members of the Task Force (72 FR 4239, 
January 30, 2007). After the close of the public comment period, NMFS 
established the Bonneville Task Force under MMPA section 120(d) in 
August 2007, which consisted of 18 members (72 FR 44833, August 9, 
2007). The Bonneville Task Force completed and submitted its report to 
NMFS on November 5, 2007. Seventeen of the eighteen members supported 
lethal removal of California sea lions while one member from the Humane 
Society of the United States (HSUS) opposed the States' application and 
any lethal removal. NMFS partially approved the State's 2006 request in 
2008, issuing its LOA on March 18, 2008.
    Shortly after NMFS issued the LOA, HSUS filed a lawsuit in the U.S. 
District Court in Oregon, alleging that NMFS' LOA violated section 120 
of the MMPA and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). In 
November 2008, the district court issued an order upholding NMFS' 
approval of the lethal removal program and its evaluation of impacts 
under NEPA. Plaintiffs appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, 
which declined to halt the removal program while the appeal was 
pending. On the merits the Ninth Circuit vacated and remanded the LOA 
in November 2010. Humane Society of the United States, et al. v. Locke, 
626 F.3d 1040 (9th Cir. 2010). In response to the court's 2010 
decision, the States submitted a new request for lethal removal 
authorization

[[Page 17143]]

on December 7, 2010. NMFS considered the request and new information 
available since its prior authorization, including the Bonneville Task 
Force's recommendations. NMFS again authorized lethal take, under 
similar conditions to the 2008 authorization (albeit with 
modifications), issuing a new LOA on May 13, 2011. HSUS again filed 
suit this time in federal court for the District of Columbia, alleging, 
among other things, that NMFS had not followed procedural requirements 
under MMPA section 120 prior to issuing the new authorization 
(including public notice and comment on the States' application). In 
coordination with the States, NMFS revoked the May 13 authorization on 
July 22, 2011, and HSUS voluntarily withdrew their lawsuit.
    On August 18, 2011, the States submitted a new request for lethal 
removal of California sea lions at Bonneville Dam under essentially the 
same conditions as the prior authorizations. NMFS published notice of 
the States' application in the Federal Register on September 12, 2011, 
and requested comment on the application and other relevant information 
concerning the pinniped-salmonid conflict at Bonneville Dam (76 FR 
56167; September 12, 2011). NMFS reconvened the Bonneville Task Force 
in October 2011 to evaluate the States' application and public comments 
and to recommend whether NMFS should approve or deny the proposed 
intentional lethal taking program. The Bonneville Task Force's final 
report and recommendation was provided to NMFS on November 14, 2011. On 
March 15, 2012, NMFS issued the current LOA to the States. In renewed 
litigation by HSUS, this LOA was upheld in district court on February 
15, 2013, and later affirmed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. 
Humane Society of the US v. Bryson, 924 F.Supp.2d 1228 (D. Or., 2013); 
HSUS v. Pritzker, No. 13-35195 (9th Cir., 9/27/13).
    The NMFS West Coast Regional Administrator has considered the 
States' application and determined that it provides sufficient evidence 
to warrant reconvening the Bonneville Task Force. The application, 
based on NMFS' 2012 LOA and its implementation, describes the 
continuing problem of interactions between pinnipeds and listed 
salmonids at and below Bonneville Dam, and describes the expected 
benefits from the removal of pinnipeds. The application also documents 
past nonlethal efforts to prevent problem pinniped-salmonid 
interactions.
    The MMPA requires NMFS to consider the recommendations of the Task 
Force when determining whether to issue a section 120 LOA. In order to 
obtain the Bonneville Task Force's views regarding this extension of 
the existing LOA, NMFS will consult with Bonneville Task Force members 
after the 30-day public comment period closes.

Request for Comments and Other Information

    NMFS solicits public comments on the States' application and any 
additional information that should be considered by the Bonneville Task 
Force in making its recommendation, or by NMFS in making its 
determination whether to approve or deny the application.

    Dated: March 22, 2016.
Nicole R. LeBoeuf,
Chief, Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Conservation Division, Office of 
Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2016-06928 Filed 3-25-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P